University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This study contributes to the issue of syntax-prosody-semantics interaction in child speech. It focuses on the prosodic realization of contextually-defined direct objects in a language allowing object scrambling. The empirical data are collected from 3-4-year-old children acquiring Ukrainian. The children’s speech samples were analyzed in order to find contrast between the prosody of sentences with various syntactic and semantic properties. The results show that child intonation is variable, but mostly predictable. The most evident contrast was detected for the structures with pronouns: when children failed to scramble pronouns, they still marked them prosodically by destressing. It can be concluded, then, that 3-4-year-old children are able to establish context relatedness for pronouns, and in order to mark their special status they can use one of two ‘options’ available in the grammar: syntactic movement or prosodic recontouring.